Kid-friendly vacation cruises -

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Planning a family vacation can be so much work that you never actually get to relax. Which is why more and more families are choosing trips where everything is taken care of -- even the kids!

Cruising is definitely not just for honeymooners and retirees anymore. According to industry figures, families are now jumping on board. In fact, one-and-a-half million children now sail the high seas each year.

Andi Sims is a mother of four and a travel writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.

"We've actually been on eight cruises together as a family and we love that it's a one-stop shop, especially for mom," says Andi. "You can come on board, everybody's entertained, everybody's pampered, everybody enjoys it and I don't have to plan any of the details."

Andi says family cruising is one of the fastest-growing segments of the cruise market and that cruise lines are continuing to develop innovative activities and attractions for toddlers, tweens and teens.

"My kids like cruising over other vacations because they have their own space to spread their wings a little bit. But at least I know that they are in a secure environment of a kids' club; I know that they're being well taken care of, but they're out of my sight. I can go enjoy myself, they can enjoy themselves without seeing me constantly hovering over them. And then there are places when everyone can come together," says Andi.

Andi says a big advantage of a family cruise is that all meals and entertainment are included in one package price.

"One of my favorite things to do is to go to one of the live Broadway shows," says Andi. "I love to be able to expose my children to live Broadway theater and I also love not to have to pay separate admission for each child. The beauty of today's cruises is that you can customize your vacation to be as active or relaxing as you want it to be. It's all about options and making sure that you and your family have the freedom to make the experience your own. If you like seeing every show and trying every restaurant you can; be that go, see, and do family. If you'd rather dine casually, shut the clubs down in the evenings and sleep through breakfast, that's perfectly fine too."

To save money, Andi suggests booking your cruise as far in advance as possible and says you need to also factor in the cost of getting yourselves to the ship.
"Check out the closest and most economical home port for you," says Andi. "If the home port is a good distance from your house, make it a part of your vacation destination as well. Stay for a night or two before or after your cruise. Usually cities with ports work with cruise lines to provide packages that are really affordable."

If you're looking for a vacation getaway that offers plenty of options and lots of fun for everyone, then consider taking a cruise. And don't forget about grandma and grandpa … because Andi says cruising is a terrific way for younger and older family members to travel together.

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